Chef wa Meitantei is a show about nothing and a show about everything

Chef wa Meitantei is a show about nothing and a show about everything

Hello. I’m Benjamin Wagner, this is my blog and today I solve the mystery of Chef wa Meitantei ( The Chef is a great detective).

I have always been fond of detective media and mystery stories in general. Classic British Dramas such as New Tricks and Life On Mars as well as American Comedy Mysteries such as Diagnosis Murder, Matlock and Jake and the Fatman have always been and continue to be amongst my most favourite television shows to this day. All of these shows have something in common. Two things in fact. They all involve mystery elements but they all also blend some comedy into the mix to create a compelling experience that doesn’t weigh too heavy on the watcher. This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy more serious takes on the mystery/ detective style, just that I have a preference when choosing this media.

And that brings us onto Chef wa Meitantei. Usually, I would give you all a reason why I chose to watch this show in the first place. This is a little awkward but the only reason I decided to watch this show to start with was that I liked the name. The idea of a chef being a detective of sorts drew parallels in my brain to the aforementioned Diagnosis Murder (where the main star is a doctor) or Murder, She Wrote (where Jessica Fletcher is an author), and this left me intrigued enough to jump right in. No research. No checking of reviews. Just saw the title and started watching.

And people say I don’t live on the edge.

So, did I manage to uncover the joy in this J-Drama or did the culprit allude me once again? Find out as I review Chef wa Meitantei.

Mifune Shinobu is a very skilled chef who specialises in French cuisine. After years of training in various French restaurants, Mifune returned to Japan to open a small bistro of his own. He doesn’t seek the fabled Michelin star or to become the greatest celebrity chef; he is instead satisfied by simply providing food that will satisfy and heal his guests. He and his small teamwork every day headed towards that simple goal of making their customers happy.

But Mifune isn’t satisfied doing this with just his food.

No. His kindness forces him to interfere with their lives by drawing out their problems and worries through his unmatched observations and deduction techniques. This allows him to connect with his guests at an even closer, more human level and cater for their specific breed of unhappiness as well as he can. The chef isn’t just a world-class chef. He is also a great detective.

Whilst that is a good basic synopsis for the show, I want to explain the phrase ‘great detective’. In this show, he isn’t a detective who goes out and solves murders or thefts. He doesn’t really solve any crimes at all. The ‘detective’ is just the closest word as none really exists to explain Mifune’s role in all this. He is still very much a chef. He doesn’t gallivant about solving crimes but instead stays in his restaurant… and cooks. But it is here where he solves his mysteries. These mysteries can be very minor, such as uncovering why a certain customer dislikes a certain meal or something more serious such as uncovering a friendship scam to defraud a friendly older lady of her money. Mifune deals with these mysteries in much the same way and it is very much a ‘mystery of the week’ formula, with only a couple of story threads being consistent throughout the show’s run. I am finding this is a common thing in Japanese drama (unless I have just been lucky in finding these) but I see this as a good thing. This gives the show an easy to watch feeling and helps you feel at home; as if you are under a warm blanket. I said a warm blanket because I have used the comfort food metaphor far too often in other reviews and even I’m getting sick of it now.

But yes, Chef wa Meitantei is a mystery show with no real over-arching mystery until the final few episodes, where Mifune’s long-term plot to find his missing father comes to light. And even this really isn’t as heavy as it sounds like it should be. The show does have its heavier moments but it deals with them in a mature way without ever risking too much in terms of increasing the age rating.

So, if you want the short answer, Chef wa Meitantei has an interesting and engaging narrative that subverted my original expectations in a good way. I’m going to say a great deal more than this but before that:

This is your spoiler warning. You will be spoiled. You have been warned.

Yes. To do this show justice, I feel like I should dive into specifics and try changing up my normal 2 question formula for dramas. Not because I thought it was getting a bit repetitive; that’s absurd.

No. This show has a much deeper and involving narrative than most of the slice-of-life focused shows I have been covering up to this point. So, let’s get on with it.

Episode 1 is very much focused on introducing our cast and their dynamics to us. I have spoken a great deal about Chef Mifune up to this point and he is as I said he was above. Happy to interfere with the lives of others but it is done more out of kindness than simply being a busybody. His sous chef, Shimura Youji is more passionate and aggressive but still a good person who greatly respects his boss and head chef. The head someillier Kaneko Yuki is a bit offbeat and has an odd obsession with haiku but is a sweetheart. She is also a lesbian character that is dealt with well. Being LBGT+ isn’t her only character trait and the storylines that deal with this don’t blow it out of proportion. And our final main cast member is Takatsuki Tomoyuki, an out of the job salaryman who finds himself working at Mifune’s restaurant, Pas Mal, after Mifune spots something special in the dejected young man. The show actually tends to follow Takatsuki’s viewpoint and many sections involve him narrating over the action or introducing the plot for the upcoming episode.

Episode one actually begins with Takatsuki being hired for the restaurant and the slapdash way in which he was hired. From here, we follow two plot threads that act as our mysteries of the day; one in which Mifune speaks to the mistress of a regular customer and reveals to her the truth of her situation and the other in which a world-renowned chocolatier slates the restaurant’s chocolate. The chocolatier is having issues of his own regarding his mother and a rather touching story regarding the name of his shop and his childhood situation is uncovered. All by themselves, these plot threads are nothing but the low-stakes nature of these mysteries allow the show to feel more realistic than a doctor taking inordinate days off to go and find a serial killer.

And this episode does a perfect job of showing what this show is about. The 40 minutes that the show lasts for encapsulates excellently what this show is going to be. If you like this episode, the rest of the show will be great for you. If you don’t like the deliberately slow pace of the show or the cutting from one small mystery to the next, this one won’t be for you at all. And instead of saying pretty much the same thing for each episode, I’m going to talk about some highlights and low-lights in a sort of quick-fire round. Let’s go:

Episode 2: The master soothes the heart of two thought to be scorned lovers; one through a misunderstanding that spans France and Japan and the other a lady who was thought to have gone back to her convict ex. However, Chef Mifune correctly ascertains the mistake in both cases. In the first, the lady had been pranked by her French fiance and over-reacted terribly; moving out without telling him.

Over a goose, no less.

Mifune does this by cooking the dish he was told about and then clueing the lady on her mistake. Granted, the mistake made her famous as she wrote a best-selling book about the event, so she hasn’t suffered that badly, but still, the sentiment is nice and the payoff is good. Call me a hopeless romantic but I liked it.

As I did the second story. A clever hint regarding the young fiance’s favourite dessert, shaved ice, provides the clue for the great chef-detective to understand the fiance’s decision. It all ends happily, with the fiance leaving her deadbeat boyfriend in the past and coming back to her likeable new beau. Both of these storylines have a strong resolution that not only wraps up the minor character’s tale but also add a little bit more character to the main cast as they interact with their guests.

Maybe this quickfire round won’t be quite as quick as I first anticipated. Screw it. I’ve changed my mind. No quickfire round, let’s do what I wanted to do when I started this blog.

In the next episode, Sous chef Shimura introduces us to his wife as she is invited by the eclectic restaurant owner (don’t worry, we’ll get to him later), to sing a special sort of French music at the restaurant’s anniversary party and a rival restaurant’s female chef attempts to discern what is so special about Mifune’s bouillabaisse; a traditional French fish stew. Shimura’s argument with his wife is a large part of this episode, as he is upset his wife didn’t tell him that she would be performing at his place of work (petty old geezer) but, as little hints about his love for his wife throughout the episode are dropped, the tenderness of Shimura is revealed. Up to this point he has been a slightly strict, more emotional chef but this episode gives him a little more emotional depth. The other main plot thread here involves the young female chef who falls for Mifune through her frequent visits to Pas Mal. Despite his obvious feelings for her, Mifune rejects her on the grounds that she was dishonest about her intentions and that she had been recently proposed to by another man (her boss- power harassment, methinks). The way that Mifune makes some clumsy mistakes after he rejects this woman shows the depth of his affection for her and the weight of decision he made when turning this woman down. Even now, I cannot say I truly understand why he rejected her yet I can accept this decision as fitting with his character. Whilst this doesn’t have the lovey-dovey, happy ending that both characters probably deserved, the bittersweet rejection fits the theme of this episode; that love comes in various forms and is very, very difficult. It is interesting that both scenes involve deception as well; the female chef and her intentions for visiting Pas Mal and Sous Chef Shimura’s deception of his wife when they were courting regarding a Galette de Rois. The subtle imagery and hinting that goes on in an episode of Chef wa Meitantei allows the audience to engage with the story on a deeper level, especially as most of the plot points up to this point have been smaller affairs more related to everyday struggles.

One note before moving onto episode 4 is that episode 3 dives slightly deeper into another woman who visits Mifune semi-regularly and is one of the few recurring plot points during the show. She is speculated about more openly here and Mifune’s cagey reaction to her mention adds to the intrigue.

Note to my high school French teacher, I still hate French.

Onto episode 4 now and this episode reveals who the woman visiting Mifune is; a private detective. I feel like they let the cat out of the bag a little too quickly here but it does go on to feature in the future episodes so I suppose it works well enough. Onto the smaller episode-specific plots and this time there are also two; both involving chefs that used to work or train with Mifune. The first is Minamino, a young chef who worked with Mifune in Japan. He visits Pas Mal at the beginning of the episode to introduce himself and everything appears friendly and cordial. However, halfway through the gang notice a negative review regarding the ratatouille. This raises the suspicions of the members regarding the author but Mifune dismisses it; stating that not everybody will enjoy the same food.

And yes, Minamino wrote the bad review to try and bolster people visiting his new restaurant but Mifune doesn’t get particularly upset about this. Instead, it is Minamino’s pride and his methods that get brought into question.

A visitor to Pas Mal orders Pistou; a dish that usually uses Pork fat but, as the consumers requested, the Chef makes it vegetarian friendly by using olive oil instead. This ends in a big argument between Mifune and Minamino where Mifune proves that Minamino had been lying to his customers to make his life easier. Minamino’s disdain for his customers hurt the pride of Mifune and he couldn’t let this stand. The theme of this episode is identity and pride and Mifune’s pride had been questioned multiple times during this show. Here, he showed he is proud of his work, what he creates and how he can accommodate other people with what he does as a living. This more aggressive Mifune adds an extra layer to his character than his standard all-knowing, good guy character. This is even added to as it is revealed that Mifune had made his first tweet ever and used it to recommend people visit Minamino’s establishment. Minamino is touched by this and, through comedy, we see the clumsiness of his and Mifune’s respect for one another. This plot was enjoyable but, for me, completely trounced by the more nuanced secondary plotline.

The surprise to me here was the inclusion of a trans character. This show really doesn’t care about public perception and just happily busts down those walls. A chef who trained with Mifune in France eats at Pas Mal with one of her pastry chefs. The interesting thing about this woman’s restaurants is the fact she only hires female workers; in the dining room and the kitchen. The problem arises however when the boss bans the usage of perfume and makeup and her pastry chef disappears, leaving only a box of very odd macarons behind. Mifune quickly ascertains the problem and explains that, even though they don’t look like the macaron that most people would notice, they are still very much macarons. The metaphorical comparison between the humble sweet dessert and somebody’s sexual identity isn’t heavy-handed and is presented in such a way, it feels the way it should; it feels normal. The acceptance that this lady is given is what the world should be; willing to contest what we accept as normal to allow other people’s normal to exist as well. There is no oppression here and this pastry chef is allowed to live as the female she wants to be.

But these plot points aren’t the most important part of the episode for me. That is our beloved sommelier Kaneko revealing to the audience that she is a homosexual. Whilst my country is still some leagues behind where it should be in this regard, Japan is most certainly still behind us in terms of being open with your sexuality. Sure, it is expressed in manga and anime but it still has a sort of taboo feeling. Coming out in Japan is still a brave thing to do. It shouldn’t be but that is the sad reality we live in. The way that Kaneko’s own identity ties into the identity of the young woman (that’s what she identifies as so that’s what I will call her) and her struggles make this episode more personal than it would have been without it. The way that this revelation is dropped out of nowhere and moved on from quickly is as it should be. Being a homosexual isn’t something to be ashamed of or shy away from. Kaneko’s character is not defined by being a homosexual. She is gay but she is also many other things. She is funny. She is good at her job. She cares for her friends and colleagues. Kaneko isn’t here to simply be ‘the gay friend’; she is here to be Kaneko. And the way that the show deals with this is the best I have seen in any country’s media. I am not gay but I believe in equality for all. I believe someday, a world will exist where coming out is not seen as a big thing at all; it is just accepted as normal to love who you love. This day is far away but the bigots will die off in the end. And then, the Kaneko effect will truly take over. Kaneko is a beautiful character. Kaneko loves to pepper the show with haiku’s so I have written one myself to express her character:

Melancholic feel
Kaneko’s identity
Maturely exposed

I am clearly not a poet. There is no seasonal word or word length variation. But that’s okay. I identify as a bad poet and I own it.

This episode is a standout. It is understated and reserved, much like the characters in the show itself. Yet it probably leaves the biggest lasting impression that this show could leave. It is thoughtful, well-paced and varied enough to live long in the memory. Episode 4 is where this show peaks.

That’s not to say every episode after this is unwatchable trash; far from it. It is to say that this episode is, for all intents and purposes, perfect. Perfect cannot be replicated at will and even excellent episodes, which all of these are, struggle to reach the mature, beautiful highs that were reached here.

Episode Five now. This episode begins with the most heartbreaking news that any episode could. Kaneko is leaving Pas Mal.

Kaneko’s girlfriend has been transferred across the country and, out of her love for her, Kaneko opts to go with her and leave her job at the restaurant. This quickly takes its toll on the staff as they struggle to cope with only Mifune, Shimura and Takatsuki. So in an odd turn of events, the young restaurant owner, who enters the room by moonwalking no less, helps the team out in his own special way and fills in for Kaneko.

This gives me an opportunity to talk a little more about this odd yet endearing young man who has somehow worked his way into leadership roles at several businesses. Ogura Daisuke is a flashy looking kid who goes completely against the stereotype one would have in mind for a Japanese business owner. He appears in the very first episode as a random youth and teases Takatsuki a little but learning that he is actually the man in charge of the whole show is a nice mini-twist. Whilst it is important to not judge on appearance, something that the show touches on multiple times, Ogura’s character is actually deeper than I had ever expected. For example, in this episode, he finds himself working at the restaurant in place of Kaneko during her leave of absence. This is played for jokes a little bit but we also see a more serious side of Ogura as he attempts to understand not just the service industry but the work also brings him into contact with a former girlfriend. The scene is awkward but it works well and you learn that Ogura feels…melancholic learning that his past love had moved on and was engaged to somebody else. There are multiple other moments where this surprising young man shows his business acumen and maturity. He has a relatively minor role, all things considered, but an important one.

Moving on to the main plotlines of the episode (yes, as I hate to admit it, Kaneko’s departure was only a minor plot thread here), the first of which shows a regular customer visits the restaurant for the first time since her divorce and speaks to the crew about her new man and how he bonded so quickly with her shy and often difficult to get along with son. She is worried that her new beau might be deceiving her thanks to her ex-husband’s affair tarnishing her trust in people but the truth of the matter is much more wholesome than that. As a matter of fact, the new boyfriend and his soon to be stepson bonded over making models out of bones and they were politely deceiving the mother as they didn’t want to gross her out. The stakes here were already low, as she clearly cared for the man regardless of his faults or dentures but it has a nice conclusion for the little family.

The second main thread involves a man who has seemingly been left by his wife. He is befuddled to her reasoning but through Mifune’s limited communication with the man and his wife on their date’s to their restaurant, he ascertains the problem; a common one with men in marriage.

He doesn’t fucking listen.

Through the medium of Foie Gras, Mifune and Shimura show the lost husband that he had been taking advantage of his wife and hadn’t shown her the respect she deserved by just listening to her wishes. She eagerly comes back, following Mifune’s interference, and it is clear she just wanted to teach him a lesson. Her love for him still held. Sometimes, despite some bumps, marriages can be steady as a rock.

The overall theme of episode 5 was clearly marriage; one that has stood the test of time, one that has ended and about finding new love and, unfortunately for Kaneko, one that never gets off the ground at all. The contrasting results for all of these couples come together to show the various intricacies that love can bring along with it. And you know what, it’s nice. The episode doesn’t sugarcoat heartbreak or try to shoehorn in a happy ending. The show is satisfied to appear real and that takes guts. And it works, too.

Doobity, doobity fliipity rix. It’s time for episode six. (It works better if you sing that lead-in, just saying).

Episode six begins with Takatsuki pestering the chef for his recipe for vin chaud– the warm mulled wine drink that he serves many of the troubled people who visit his restaurant. I don’t think he drugs it with some sort of truth serum so that his guests spill all of their secrets… but he might.

Regardless, the main plotlines quickly arrive and it involves a new couple; one a charming businessman and the female side of the equation a high flying actress who is leaving her troupe to get married to this gentleman. Oddly, this is the only real consistent thread throughout this episode and it seems to get a little more screentime than a few of the other episodes normally provide. It turns out that the actress’s biggest superfan is not a fan of her marriage. Leaving your career behind to get married is an unfortunate norm in Japan and one that this eager young beaver doesn’t take to well. She actually poisons a dish that she makes for the husband in place of his soon-to-be wife… But not with something that would kill him, thankfully. Just something that would make him incontinent and embarrass him. When Mifune exposes her, she breaks down and apologises. But that’s it really. There is no real arc to this story. No ups or downs. It all just feels flat and the resolution feels just as flat. For all we know, the couple get married and the crazed fan finds another actress to latch onto. Yep, this is probably the weakest plot the show has provided thus far and what could have been a good commentary on fans perceptions of their idols, it instead turned it into something dull and frankly forgettable.

I said this was the only plot thread in the episode and it was… almost. The other main consistent line through the show this time involves Takatsuki. Mifune thinks that Takatsuki is breaking into the restaurant in order to steal recipes off of him; in particular, the aforementioned vin chaud. Of course, this is not the case and instead, Takatsuki is simply attempting to show his mother his workplace without inconveniencing his boss. The suspicion held by Mifune never really feels real to me. There was not a moment where I believed Takatsuki was a spy or that he was trying to deceive the people he had been building a relationship with for a considerable amount of time now. The little suspicion is put to rest when Takatsuki’s mother puts Mifune’s mind at rest by showing him the video that her son had recorded and the kind words he had to say about Pas Mal.

Whilst I found this episode’s plot to be underwhelming and lacking the punch that the other episodes held, this does give me a good chance to talk a little about Takatsuki. Takatsuki is comfortably the most forgettable of the main quartet but also the one we hear from the most as many of the scenes are narrated over from the viewpoint of Pas Mal‘s newest waiter. It was nice to see how he got the job under Mifune and how he learns to respect his boss and grow as a person because of him. Takatsuki is like an RPG main character, let’s say the hero in Dragon Quest. He has little character of his own but manages to act as a sort of conduit for the viewer. He is a fairly blank canvas that allows the viewer or player to feel as if they are in the story themselves. This episode does give him a little more depth as a person but I just didn’t really warm to him. Sure, he’s kind and he cares for his colleagues but… that’s most people. He just needs a bit more to stand out in a room of stand-outs.

With the main plot threads all done and dusted, there is just one more thing to mention. The private detective attempting to find Mifune’s father arrives with some news. She is yet to find the man but has confirmed that… he is alive. This bombshell knocks Mifune for six a little but this was clearly only added to act as a teaser and an inventive for the upcoming episodes. I don’t feel overly connected to the father finding mission just yet but I’m sure it will be given more focus as the series grows closer to the end. And with the end in sight, we move closer to heaven, with episode seven.

Episode 7 begins with an explanation about the restaurant’s corkage charge, a charge for the serving of wine that has been brought in by the customer. We are then introduced to our first main plotline. A group of assholes are secretly extorting a slightly older, richer lady out of her money with the help of one of the ladies’ friends. Takatsuki discovers this but is implored to say nothing. The group leave Pas Mal but Mifune cannot leave it there. He invites the woman back with her friend and kindly explains the situation. The older lady thinks that he oldest friend has betrayed her but, instead, she is trying to protect her from getting hurt. The younger of the two had previously been bullied and was protected by the other. She sees that it is time for her to return the favour and attempts to prevent her close bosom buddy from being hurt in the same way. It all feels a little awkward but, as per normal, the sentiment is there and it manages to carry it all off very well. Sometimes the sentiment and message of something are enough to make up for the lack of… engagement if that makes sense. As this show progressed, I felt more and more disengaged with it; as if it had become a slightly tedious chore to sit through the whole 50-minute episode instead of the fun romp it should have been.

The secondary plotline here involves a pregnant young lady, her friend and her friend’s mother (also their dance teacher, I believe). The plot involves the consumption of steak tartare, a dish made with raw meat. The dance teacher attempts to coax her student into telling her about the pregnancy by offering her some of her steak tartare, a dish she knows can cause damage to unborn children. Don’t worry, this isn’t as criminal as all that as she had been in to see Mifune days prior to requesting the meat be changed to something that would contain the toxin that is in the raw beef. The dance teacher is hurt that she wasn’t told about the pregnancy but accepts that her student’s intentions were pure. Again, this was a nice little tale but it did feel a little like a non-starter and never as engaging as earlier plots had been. Which is a shame. Maybe if this episode had come in as the second or third episode, the plotlines might have engaged me more but I just felt a little deprived here.

This isn’t all episode 7 has to offer though as we get some more progression on the pursuit of Papa Mifune. The PI turns up and informs Mifune that his father is not just alive but that she has managed to arrange a meeting with the man.

This meeting doesn’t happen, however, as he is a no-show and, at the end of the episode, the private detective turns up alone. This will probably lead into the next episode, the penultimate of the series. We did also learn some nice backstory about Mifune’s special stool, one he used as a child in his father’s restaurant, but this is mostly fluff. Nice fluff, but fluff. But, the end is truly near now and we move on to Episode Eight.

Episode 8 begins with the more personal storyline coming to a head. Instead of showing up as expected, the PI instead brings along a young woman. No, he hasn’t had the transition and instead this young lady is more like a surrogate daughter to Mifune’s father. Mifune’s father is now farming in the boonies and has a strong relationship with this young lady. Again, nothing creepy and just something very paternal. And, if it hasn’t dawned on you yet, this young lady has come to tell Mifune that, unfortunately, his father does not wish to meet him. This clearly hurts Mifune but he still requests that the PI cease the search and thanks her for her help, before then inviting the young lady back to the restaurant to experience French bistro food, something she hasn’t been able to do because of her lactose intolerance. Mifune’s character can be defined by the class he shows at this moment, almost seeming like he is above human in his kindness and humility. This plot thread does end here for this episode but is the main driving force behind episode 9, so we will be revisiting this soon.

Onto the side plots now and our favourite eccentric business owner comes in to ask Mifune and Shimura for their assistance. Owner Ogura has purchased some land to open a new French bakery known as a pois rouge. He also hires two passionate young women as the ones to control this new business and Mifune and Shimura to consult about the new bread and baked goods to be served. During this meeting, one of the ladies gets antsy and annoyed about the idea of serving non-French bread at their bakery but seems disingenuous when asked to explain herself. It turns out that in the same vicinity, there is another bakery known as Blanc. This small family-run establishment focuses on making Japanese comfort bread, such as Melon Pan and filled bread that is popular with the Japanese. This bakery quickly shuts down, before the new one even opens and the young lady who opposed the idea disappears. It turns out that Blanc was run by the parents of that young lady and that they gave it up to support the dreams of her daughter. It all ends very nicely though as Ogura reveals he started the bakery to act as a supplement to what existed and not to replace it. Mifune also reveals that the name a pois rogue means nothing without the word blanc before it. All together, blanc a pois rouge means White with Red Polka Dots and that both businesses were supposed to offer something different. Everyone cries and rejoices and this really is one of the better stories that this entire series has told. Beautifully paced, believable characters and a really nice conclusion to a mini-familial drama. Plus Ogura is funny whenever he appears on the screen.

The other storyline doesn’t work for me quite as well but the same sentiment holds. The plotline follows a Japanese man in a bowtie who visits Pas Mal after returning from Italy. The man has an… interesting personality and is slightly irritable but this is explained when the two storylines crossover. The bakers from before leaving a sample for Mifune to evaluate and the man recognises the bread as something made by a woman he used to love when he was aboard. He tells them her story and that she left the area due to her cancer affecting her breasts and her losing her femininity. The man laments not telling her he loved her whilst she lived but Mifune rebuffs this and ensures the man that she is still alive. He leaves confused but storms back in days later after researching the meaning of the bread itself. Again, his personality is… interesting if not likeable. He laments the time he has wasted in trying to find her and, just as he is about to give up, the youthful and beautiful Kaneko introduces these boomers to the concept of social media and the man posts a video to try and reach out to this beautiful young woman. As the episode begins to end, the gang see an image of a beautiful woman with the sign behind her reading Pappilon, the nickname that the gentleman’s old flame called him, hinting at a happy ending. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and makes you feel good but… it’s a bit of a long shot, isn’t it? She doesn’t speak Japanese so how would she find this video? I mean, I don’t really care enough about the man himself to really feel much about this plot to begin with and after how nice the other plotline was, this let me down a little… But that doesn’t matter because we are on to the final episode and this ridiculous breakdown is almost at its end.

Episode 9. The endening.

It is worth mentioning that at the end of episode 8, as the gang wrapped up the episode, Mifune’s special seat… broke. After years of use, the stool designed for a child finally gives up and breaks into pieces. Takatsuki throws it out without knowing the significance of the chair and works earnestly to try and locate it, with the assistance of Kaneko and Shimura. This little scene and subplot is quite funny and, whilst the show is always peppering comedy into the laid-back narrative, this episode doubled down and did a splendid job. They do end up finding and fixing the chair in the end, which is nice, but doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme.

Abe, the young lady that is now close to Mifune’s father, makes a reservation to visit Pas Mal, and Mifune is happy to have her. They prepare a lactose-free meal and she reveals that she used to be a baker herself. It didn’t work out but she says she still very much loved bread. She felt guilty about her father’s passing and that she never got to taste his food and Mifune helps her come to terms with this. With gratitude, she manages to convince Mifune’s father to visit his son. This always felt like how they would end the show and the scene that follows is touching. Mifune, years after understanding the true nuance of Pas Mal (Literally, not bad but actually meaning very good), he wanted to cook for the man who inspired him once more. The final scene involves Mifune cooking with his father once again and a man with more heart than myself would probably tear up at the beautiful scene unfolding in front of them.

And it is beautiful.

With their relationship on the mend and Kaneko’s final awkward haiku written, the series comes to its eventual, inevitable conclusion; ending in the same low-key manner in which it began.

I’ve done it now. This was far, far, far too long and I am actually annoyed about the number of words I have written in the end, here. More so because I still have one thing to add. Thankfully, it’s a short one. The opening song is a jazzy treat. I don’t know what it is about J-drama but all of the opening songs I have heard so far have been amazing; all of them go on my playlist and quickly become favourites of mine. I don’t know if it is the jazzy beat, the beautiful falsetto voice of the singer or the catchy chorus, I just think this song is a well-fitting masterpiece.

Chef wa Meitantei is a show about nothing and a show about everything. This show carries low stakes and high stakes at the same time and, like every damn show I seem to end up watching, this show is very character-driven. As if their stories mean more than any over-arching narrative could. As if they have invited themselves into your living room and regale you over some whiskey about the wacky boss they used to have. This show makes you feel comfortable. Safe. Like you want to come back and just unwind at this very restaurant. This show is homely, leaving you full and satisfied after your excellent meal.

I give Chef wa Meitantei

Chef wa Meitantei: 8.8/10– An incredibly warm and inviting show that only occasionally trips up over itself.

This review is by far my longest drama review. I didn’t think it was possible to write this much about a show but I was clearly mistaken. I am still undecided about the style I wish to write in and I could certainly cut a lot of the fluff out, but I think that writing long, unnecessary essays might be my style. We will see as the year progresses but, for now…


What I mean is:

I’ve been Benjamin Wagner, and I endorse this message.

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